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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 16, 2022, 12:18 pm
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Last edit by: Adam Smith
This wiki will attempt to cover the ability to access various lounges operated by AC. Since many travellers are not familiar with the layout of Canadian airports, we will detail both physical access as well as rules.


Overview of lounges

AC has three types of lounges:
  • Maple Leaf Lounges (MLLs): essentially, regular lounges
  • Caf: caf-style lounge with limited access and grab-and-go
  • Signature Suites: essentially, only for long-haul international business class passengers
Additionally, AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR for eligible customers.

Locations & Physical Access

Lounges are in the following locations:



Notes:
  • YYZ Transborder: there are 2 MLLs, a full MLL right after US CBP and a second, small MLL near the regional gates
  • YYC Transborder: AC provides access to the Aspire lounge for status and J pax (no passes/credit cards)
  • YTZ Caf: the Caf at YTZ is an Aspire lounge (accessible via Priority Pass and other programs) co-branded by AC
  • EWR: the MLL is a co-branding of the United lounge in Terminal A; access rules are not entirely clear


Note that most of the Canadian airports used by AC have separate areas for domestic, transborder ("TB", i.e. to the US), and international flights. MLLs are often referred to based on which area of the terminal theyre in, e.g. YYZ Dom is the domestic lounge in YYZ, YUL Intl is the international lounge at YUL. Except when connecting from a domestic flight to a TB/international one, you can only use a lounge in the area from which your flight departs. For instance, a passenger flying from YYZ to LGA cannot use the YYZ Dom MLL as CATSA will not allow them to access the domestic wing; a passenger flying YXE-YYZ-LGA could use the YYZ Dom MLL as they will already be in the domestic area on arrival.

YYZ, YVR, and YUL have segregated international departures areas. The international MLLs cannot be accessed before domestic flights. In other locations, a "domestic" MLL can also be accessed before international flights.

Please note that while the US is a separate country, it is NOT an "international" destination in the way most Canadian airports and AC are set up. You can NEVER access the international lounges when departing on a flight to the US. (Passengers connecting in YVR between a domestic and US flight and following the connections path will enter the international departures area prior to the US area and although can physically access the international MLL, you will not be admitted and will be directed to the US area).

Lounges in transborder areas are after US customs pre-clearance, and can only be accessed by customers travelling to the US.


Access Rules

NEW Effective June 13, 2023
Access to Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafs, and Signature Suites will be limited to three hours prior to scheduled departure time. Please note that this policy does not apply during flight connections or flight delays.


While it is not published at the time of writing this, the internal policy now exempts SEs and most passengers with reported disabilities (eg WCHR) from the three hour rule for Maple Leaf Lounges, but not the Signature Suite.

MLLs

Can be accessed for customers holding a SAME DAY DEPARTING boarding pass (for a flight operated by AC or another *A member) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 35K (domestic and transborder only; no guests; until June 1 2023 - no access on or after)
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • VA Velocity Platinum or Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (on AC or another *A carrier)
    • Premium rouge
  • Passes(passes may only be valid for certain locations, e.g. domestic/TB - Assume your pass is not valid for any International lounge)
    • Given out to those with AC status
    • Given out to certain credit card holders
    • Purchased directly from AC as an add-on to the flight, either in advance or at the lounge
  • Credit cards (no passes required, only for MLLs located within Canada and the US. No access to LHR, CDG, or FRA lounges):
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards

Domestic MLLs in Canada, and MLLs in the USA, can also be accessed by those ARRIVING on an Air Canada mainline, rouge or Express flight, for those holding 50K status and higher.


Signature Suites

Signature Suites require both (a) an eligible fare and (b) an eligible destination. Your flight must be a flight operated by Air Canada that is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver. It doesnt matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if youre on an AC codeshare, or if your itinerary has other international connections. Unless your flight is operated by Air Canada, and is advertised as Signature Class, and is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver, youre not eligible. The only exception is Emirates First Class - see below.

Eligible fares:
  • Paid business class (originally booked in J, C, D, Z, or P classes)
  • Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets - note that only Air Canada can ticket Flexible reward tickets; the website may incorrectly display a partner reward as Flexible
  • First Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets when travelling on an Air Canada segment in Business Class
  • Emirates First Class (one guest)

Eligible destinations:
  • South America (Colombia and south)
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest) reward tickets
  • Anyone booked on a reward ticket through a partner airline, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an international Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an international flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.

Cafs

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Caf) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (there is no business class service from YTZ, but a business class boarding pass for the subsequent flight enables access)
    • Premium rouge
  • Credit cards:
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards
Passengers arriving on a domestic flight with a connection to a US or international destination, although you can physically access the Caf, you will not be admitted. eGates have been updated to enforce the access policy.

While it is not published, the internal policy exempts SEs from that requirement, so you should be admitted.

LHR Arrivals Lounge

AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR, accessible to the following customers upon exiting the baggage hall in Terminal 2:
  • Business Class (Including upgrades to J)
  • Aeroplan Super Elite (one guest) when arriving on an Air Canada flight
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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 28, 2022, 3:16 pm
  #181  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Yeah, I'd always read it the other way before, but they have apparently disabled the access gates because they were "inappropriately" allowing people in.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 4:03 pm
  #182  
 
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I guess they don't want to cheapen the Caf either - thanks for taking one for the team canadiancow

And RangerNS clearly knows how to use a semicolon properly.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 4:33 pm
  #183  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
Yeah, I'd always read it the other way before, but they have apparently disabled the access gates because they were "inappropriately" allowing people in.
Disabled in what way? The gates were closed when I came in 5 minutes ago, and opened when I scanned my BP.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 4:47 pm
  #184  
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith
Disabled in what way? The gates were closed when I came in 5 minutes ago, and opened when I scanned my BP.
Okay maybe it was just the one agent who turned them off and felt like making her own rules.

​​​​​​
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 6:17 pm
  #185  
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
We were just denied entry to the Cafe with YYZ-SFO BPs.

Reading the website:



This is now being enforced.
There is a partial loophole to this: A 50K or higher traveling domestically MAY guest a passenger with a TB or INTL BP. YMMV
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 6:23 pm
  #186  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
Okay maybe it was just the one agent who turned them off and felt like making her own rules.​​​​​​
A different agent replaced the one who was on I first got there. She also had the gates closed, and seemed like people were scanning BPs to get in. So it's possible the agent you had was following a new policy that the others weren't, or maybe she was just doing whatever she felt like.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 6:56 pm
  #187  
 
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Originally Posted by recreationaltimetraveller
There is a partial loophole to this: A 50K or higher traveling domestically MAY guest a passenger with a TB or INTL BP. YMMV
How do you get that from the wording of the Cafe rules? Or do you have experience?
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 7:01 pm
  #188  
 
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Originally Posted by RangerNS
How do you get that from the wording of the Cafe rules? Or do you have experience?
experience
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 10:14 pm
  #189  
 
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Are flights to MEX considered TB or Intl for lounge purposes (assume its the latter)?
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 10:20 pm
  #190  
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TB is only US.
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Old Aug 29, 2022, 12:04 pm
  #191  
 
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So I just entered the Cafe, and the agent didn't look up from her desk. I used the automated gates for entry.
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Old Aug 30, 2022, 8:41 pm
  #192  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Lounge Access Day (<24 Hours) Before Flight

Bit of an unusual question:

I'm flying out of LHR on the morning of 1 Sep. Booked myself a landside airport hotel for the night before to avoid an early morning rush across London. Then got to thinking:

Since I'll be checked in 24 hours before the flight, traveling with no checked bags, and already at the airport, could I theoretically clear security and use the MLL (or another Star lounge) at T2 for a few hours on 31 Aug, exit the airside area to use the hotel at night, and return the next morning for my flight?

Has anyone ever tried this? Is it against the rules? Frowned upon? Thanks all.
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Old Aug 30, 2022, 8:57 pm
  #193  
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Originally Posted by capedreamer
Since I'll be checked in 24 hours before the flight, traveling with no checked bags, and already at the airport, could I theoretically clear security and use the MLL (or another Star lounge) at T2 for a few hours on 31 Aug, exit the airside area to use the hotel at night, and return the next morning for my flight?

Has anyone ever tried this? Is it against the rules? Frowned upon?
You don't hold a same day boarding pass, so no, you're not eligible for lounge access.

Not to mention LHR security is highly unlikely to let you into the secured area at all.
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Old Aug 30, 2022, 9:32 pm
  #194  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith
You don't hold a same day boarding pass, so no, you're not eligible for lounge access.

Not to mention LHR security is highly unlikely to let you into the secured area at all.
I see. Thank you!
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Old Aug 30, 2022, 10:22 pm
  #195  
 
Join Date: May 2022
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Originally Posted by The Lev
If he is a secondary card holder yes, otherwise you will have to pay a guest fee (I believe $20) to have him admitted.

Per the small print in the card rules: "A Primary Cardholder and Additional Cardholder(s) are each entitled to complimentary access to any Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge located in Canada and the United States, including International Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada and the United States when travelling on an international itinerary. Access excludes Air Canada Signature Suites and lounges operated by third parties, such as Star Alliance member airlines. Guests of Primary Cardholders or Additional Cardholders may enter upon paying an applicable fee."

If you had the Amex version, you could bring a guest for free and the CIBC card has that benefit up until the end of this year.
While technically true, I took in a guest without a fee to the YYZ and YVR MLLs and the Cafe this weekend with the TD VIP and no status.
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